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Forty Centuries of Ink by David N. Carvalho.
FORTY CENTURIES OF INK
A CHRONOLOGICAL NARRATIVE CONCERNING INK AND ITS BACKGROUNDS
INTRODUCING INCIDENTAL OBSERVATIONS AND DEDUCTIONS, PARALLELS OF TIME AND COLOR PHENOMENA, BIBLIOGRAPHY, CHEMISTRY, POETICAL EFFUSIONS, CITATIONS, ANECDOTES AND CURIOSA TOGETHER WITH SOME EVIDENCE RESPECTING THE EVANESCENT CHARACTER OF MOST INKS OF TO-DAY AND AN EPITOME OF CHEMICO-LEGAL INK.
BY DAVID N. CARVALHO
The unfortunate conditions surrounding the almost universal use of the oddly named commercial and with few exceptions record inks, and the so-called modern paper, is the motive for the writing of this book. The numerous color products of coal tar, now so largely employed in the preparation of ink, and the worse material utilized in the manufacture of the hard- finished writing papers, menace the future preservation of public and other records. Those who occupy official position and who can help to ameliorate this increasing evil, should begin to do so without delay. Abroad England, Germany and France and at home Massachusetts and Connecticut have sought to modify these conditions by legislation and our National Treasury Department only last year, in establishing a standard for its ink, gives official recognition of these truths.
There is no "History of Ink;" but of ink history there is a wealth of material, although historians have neglected to record information about the very substance by which they sought to keep and transmit the chronicles they most desired to preserve. From the beginning of the Christian era to the present day, "Ink" literature, exclusive of its etymology, chemical formulas, and methods of manufacture, has been confined to brief statements in the encyclopedias, which but repeat each other. A half dozen original articles, covering only some particular branch together with a few treatises more general in their ramifications of the subject, can also be found. Seventy lines about "writing ink" covering its history for nearly four thousand years is all that is said in "The Origin and Progress of Handwriting," a revised book of hundreds of pages of Sir Thomas Astle, London, 1876, and once deemed the very highest authority.
The mass of ancient and comparatively modern documents which we have inherited, chronicle nothing about the material with which they were written. The more valuable of them are disfigured by the superscription of newer writings over the partially erased earlier ones, thus rendering the work of ascertaining their real character most difficult. Nevertheless, patient research and advanced science have enabled us to intelligently study and investigate, and from the evidence thus gained, to state facts and formulate opinions that may perhaps outlast criticism.
The bibliographical story of "Ink" is replete with many interesting episodes, anecdotes and poetical effusions. Its chemical history is a varied and phenomenal one. Before the nineteenth century the ink industry was confined to the few. Since then, it has developed into one of magnificent proportions. The new departure, due to the discovery and development of the "Aniline" family of fugitive colors, is noteworthy as being a step backward which may take years to retrace.
The criminal abuse of ink is not infrequent by evil- disposed persons who try by secret processes to reproduce ink phenomena on ancient and modern documents. While it is possible to make a new ink look old, the methods that must be employed, will of themselves reveal to the examiner the attempted fraud, if he but knows how to investigate.
How to accomplish this as well as to give a chronological history on the subject of inks generally, both as to their genesis, the effect of time and the elements, the determination of the constituents and the constitution of inks, their value as to lasting qualities, their removal and restoration, is the object of this work. There is also included many court cases where the matter of ink was in controversy; information respecting ancient MSS. and the implements and other accessories of ink which have from time to time been employed in the act of writing.
To make a comprehensive review of the past in its relationship to ink has been my aim. In the construction of this work recourse has been had to the so- called original sources of information. In these, the diversity of their incomplete statements about different countries and epochs has offered many obstacles. In presenting my own deductions and inferences, it is with a desire to remove any impressions as to this volume being a mere compilation. "Facts are the data of all just reasoning, and the elements of all real knowledge. It follows that he is a wise man who possesses the greatest store of facts on a given subject. A book, therefore, which assembles facts from their scattered sources, may be considered as a useful and important auxiliary to those who seek them." A prolonged and continuous intercourse for over a quarter of a century with ancient and modern MSS., with books and other literature, with laymen and chemists, with students and manufacturers, together with the information and knowledge derived from experiment and study of results may enable the author to make the subject fairly clear. Effort has been made to avoid technical words and phrases in that portion treating of the Chemistry of Inks.
This work will no doubt be variously considered. Criticism is expected, indeed it is gladly invited, for thereby may follow controversy, discussion and perhaps legislation, which will bring about results beneficial to those who are to follow after us.
I. GENESIS OF INK II. ANTIQUITY OF INK III. CLASSICAL INK AND ITS EXODUS IV. CLASSICAL INK AND ITS EXODUS (Continued) V. REVIVAL OF INK VI. INK OF THE WEST VII. EARLY MEDIAEVAL INK VIII. MEDIAEVAL INK IX. END OF MEDIAEVAL INK X. RENAISSANCE INK XI. ANCIENT INK TREATISES XII. STUDY OF INK XIII. STUDY OF INK XIV. CLASSIFICATIONS OF INK XV. OFFICIAL AND LEGAL INK XVI. ENDURING INK XVII. INK PHENOMENA XVIII. INK CHEMISTRY XIX. FRAUDULENT INK BACKGROUNDS XX. FUGITIVE INK. XXI. ANCIENT AND MODERN INK RECEIPTS XXII. INK INDUSTRY. XXIII. CHEMICO-LEGAL INK XXIV. CHEMICO-LEGAL INK (Continued) XXV. INK UTENSILS OF ANTIQUITY XXVI. INK UTENSILS (Quill PEN v. Steel Pen) XXVII. SUBSTITUTES FOR INK UTENSILS ("Lead" and other Pencils) XXVIII. ANCIENT INK BACKGROUNDS (The Origin of Papyrus) XXIX. ANCIENT INK BACKGROUNDS (Parchment and Vellum) XXX. MODERN INK BACKGROUNDS (True Paper) XXXI. MODERN INK BACKGROUNDS (Wood Paper and Safety Paper) XXXII. CURIOSA (Ink and other Writing Materials)
FORTY CENTURIES OF INK
GENESIS OF INK.
THE ORIGIN OF INK—COMPOSITION OF THE COLORED INKS OF ANTIQUITY—ANCIENT NAMES FOR BLACK INKS—METHODS OF THEIR MANUFACTURE—THE INVENTION OF "INDIAN" INK—THE ART OF DYEING HISTORICALLY CONSIDERED—THE SYMBOLIC ESTIMATION OF COLORS—THE EMPLOYMENT OF TINCTURES AS INKS—CONSIDERATION OF THE ANTIQUITY OF ARTIFICIAL INKS AND THE BLACK INKS OF INTERMEDIATE TIMES—ORIGIN OF THE COLORED PIGMENTS OF ANTIQUITY-CITATIONS FROM HERODOTUS, PLINY AND ARBUTHNOT—PRICES CURRENT, OF ANCIENT INKS AND COLORS—WHY THE NATURAL INKS FORMERLY EMPLOYED ARE NOT STILL EXTANT—THE KIND OF INK EMPLOYED BY THE PRIESTS IN THE TIME OF MOSES—ILLUSTRATIVE HISTORY OF THE EGYPTIANS IN ITS RELATIONSHIP TO WRITING IMPLEMENTS—THE USE OF BOTH RED AND BLACK INK IN JOSEPH'S TIME—ITS OTHER HISTORY PRECEDING THE DEPARTURE OF ISRAEL FROM EGYPT—THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALL BUT A FEW KINDS OF INK—INK TRADITIONS AND THEIR VALUE—STORY ABOUT THE ORACLES OF THE SIBYLS—HOW THE ANCIENT HISTORIANS SOUGHT TO BE MISLEADING—ILLUSTRATIVE ANECDOTE BY RICHARDSON:
THE origin of Ink belongs to an era following the invention of writing. When the development of that art had advanced beyond the age of stone inscription or clay tablet, some material for marking with the reed and the brush was necessary. It was not difficult to obtain black or colored mixtures for this purpose. With their advent, forty centuries or more ago, begins the genesis of ink.
The colored inks of antiquity included the use of a variety of dyes and pigmentary colors, typical of those employed in the ancient art of dyeing, in which the Egyptians excelled and still thought by many to be one of the lost arts. The Bible and alleged contemporary and later literature make frequent mention of black and many colors of brilliant hues.
In tracing the arts of handwriting and dyeing, some definite facts are to be predicated as to the most remote history of ink.
The Hebrew word for ink is deyo, so called from its blackness. As primitively prepared for ritualistic purposes and for a continuing period of more than two thousand years, it was a simple mixture of powdered charcoal or soot with water, to which gum was sometimes added.
The Arabian methods of making ink (alchiber) were more complex. Lampblack was first made by the burning of oil, tar or rosin, which was then commingled with gum and honey and pressed into small wafers or cakes, to which water could be added when wanted for use.
About 1200 years before the Christian era, the Chinese perfected this method and invented "Indian Ink," ostensibly for blackening the surface of raised hieroglyphics, which "was obtained from the soot produced by the smoke of pines and the oil in lamps, mixed with the isinglass (gelatin) of asses' skin, and musk to correct the odour of the oil." Du Halde cites the following, as of the time of the celebrated Emperor Wu-Wong, who flourished 1120 years before Christ:
"As the stone Me (a word signifying blackening in the Chinese language), which is used to blacken the engraved characters, can never become white; so a heart blackened by vices will always retain its blackness."
That the art of dyeing was known, valued and applied among early nations, is abundantly clear. The allusions to "purple and fine raiment," to "dyed garments," to "cloth of many colours," &c., are numerous in the Bible. In a note to the "Pictorial Bible, after an allusion to the antiquity of this art, and to the pre- eminence attached by the ancients to purple beyond every other color, it is remarked: "It is important to understand that the word purple, in ancient writings, does not denote one particular colour."
Many of the names of the dyestuffs have come down to us, some of them still in use at this time and others obsolete. They were employed sometimes as ink, and certain color values given to them, of which the more important were blue, red, yellow, green, white, black, purple, gold and silver. Some colors were estimated symbolically. White was everywhere the symbol of purity and the emblem of innocence, and, just opposite, black was held up as an emblem of affliction and calamity.
Green was the emblem of freshness, vigor and prosperity.
Blue was the symbol of revelation; it was pre-eminently the celestial color blessed among heathen nations, and among the Hebrews it was the Jehovah color, the symbol of the revered God. Hence, it was the color predominant in Mosaic ceremonies.
Purple was associated as the dress of kings, with ideas of royalty and majesty.
Crimson and scarlet, from their resemblance to blood, became symbolical of life, and also an emblem of that which was indelible or deeply ingrained.
Later, in Christian times, only five colors were recognized as fitting for theological meaning or expression: white, red, green, violet and black.
White was esteemed as being the union of all the rays of light, and is often referred to as the symbol of truth and spotless purity. Red was emblematic both of fire and love, while green from its analogy to the vegetable world, was indicative of life and hope. Violet was considered the color of penitence and sorrow. Blue was forbidden except as a color peculiarly appropriated to the Virgin Mary, while black represented universally sorrow, destruction and death.
The art of dyeing was also well understood and practiced in Persia in the most ancient periods. The modern Persians have chosen Christ as their patron, and Bischoff says at present call a dyehouse Christ's workshop, from a tradition they have that He was of that profession, which is probably founded on the old legend "that Christ being put apprentice to a dyer, His master desired him to dye some pieces of cloth of different colors; He put them all into a boiler, and when the dyer took them out he was terribly frightened on finding that each had its proper color."
This, or a similar legend, occurs in the apocryphal book entitled, "The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ." The following is the passage:
"On a certain day also, when the Lord Jesus was playing with the boys, and running about, He passed by a dyer's shop whose name was Salem, and there were in his shop many pieces of cloth belonging to the people of that city, which they designed to dye of several colors. Then the Lord, Jesus, going into the dyer's shop, took all the cloths and threw them into the furnace. When Salem came home and saw the cloth spoiled, he began to make a great noise and to chide the Lord Jesus, saying: 'What hast Thou done, unto me, O thou son of Mary? Thou hast injured both me and my neighbors; they all desired their cloths of a proper color, but Thou hast come and spoiled them all.' The Lord Jesus replied: 'I will change the color of every cloth to what color thou desirest,' and then He presently began to take the cloths out of the furnace; and they were all dyed of those same colors which the dyer desired. And when the Jews saw this surprising miracle they praised God."
The ancients used also a number of tinctures as ink, among them a brown color, sepia, in Hebrew tekeleth. As a natural ink its origin antedates every other ink, artificial or otherwise, in the world. It is a black-brown liquor, secreted by a small gland into an oval pouch, and through a connecting duct is ejected at will by the cuttle fish which inhabits the seas of Europe, especially the Mediterranean. These fish constantly employ the contents of their "ink bags" to discolor the water, when in the presence of enemies, in order to facilitate their escape from them.
The black broth of the Spartans was composed of this product. The Egyptians sometimes used it for coloring inscriptions on stone. It is the most lasting of all natural ink substances.
So great is the antiquity of artificial ink that the name of its inventor or date of its invention are alike unknown. The poet Whitehead refers to it as follows:
Hard that his name it should not save, Who first poured forth the sable wave."
The common black ink of the ancients was essentially different in composition and less liable to fade than those used at the present time. It was not a stain like ours, and when Horace wrote
"And yet as ink the fairest paper stains, So worthless verse pollutes the fairest deeds,"
he must have had in mind the vitriolic ink of his own time.
But little information relative to black inks of the intermediate times has come down to us, and it is conveyed through questioned writings of authors who flourished about the period of the life of Jesus Christ; the Younger Pliny and Dioscorides are the most prominent of them. They present many curious recipes. One of these, suggested by Pliny, is that the addition of an infusion of wormwood to ink will prevent the destruction of MSS. by mice.
From a memoir by M. Rousset upon the pigments and dyes used by the ancients, it would appear that the variety was very considerable. Among the white colors, they were acquainted with white lead; and for the blacks, various kinds of charcoal and soot were used. Animal skins were dyed black with gall apples and sulphate of iron (copper). Brown pigments were made by mixing different kinds of ochre. Under the name of Alexander blue, the ancients—Egyptians as well as Greeks and Romans—used a pigment containing oxide of copper, and also one containing cobalt.
Fabrics were dyed blue by means of pastel-wood.
Yellow pigments were principally derived from weld, saffron, and other native plants.
Vermilion, red ochre, and minium (red lead) were known from a remote antiquity, although the artificial preparation of vermilion was a secret possessed only by the Chinese.
The term scarlet as employed in the Old Testament was used to designate the blood-red color procured from an insect somewhat resembling cochineal, found in great quantities in Armenia and other eastern countries. The Arabian name of the insect is Kermez (whence crimson). It frequents the boughs of a species of the ilex tree: on these it lays its eggs in groups, which become covered with a sort of down, so that they present the appearance of vegetable galls or excrescences from the tree itself and are described as such by Pliny XVI, 12, who also gave it the name of granum, probably on account of its resemblance to a grain or berry, which has been adopted by more recent writers and is the origin of the term "ingrain color" as now in use. The dye is procured from the female grub alone, which, when alive is about the size of the kernel of a cherry and of a dark red-brown color, but when dead, shrivels up to the size of a grain of wheat and is covered with a bluish mold. It has an agreeable aromatic smell which it imparts to that with which it comes into contact. It was first found in general use in Europe in the tenth century. About 1550, cochineal, introduced there from Mexico, was found to be far richer in coloring matter and therefore gradually superseded the older dyestuff.
Indigo was used in India and Egypt long before the Christian era; and it is asserted that blue ribbons (strips) found on Egyptian mummies 4500 years old had been dyed with indigo. It was introduced into Europe only in the sixteenth century.
The use of madder as a red dyestuff dates from very early times. Pliny mentions it as being employed by the Hindoos, Persians and Egyptians. In the middle ages the names sandis, warantia, granza, garancia, were applied to madder, the latter (garance) being still retained in France. The color yielding substance resides almost entirely in the roots.
Chilzon was the name given by the ancient Hebrews to a blue dye procured from a species of shell-fish.
Herodotus, B. C. 443, asserts that on the shores of the Caspian Sea lived a people who painted the forms of animals on their garments with vegetable dyes:
"They have trees whose leaves possess a peculiar property; they reduce them to powder, and then strip them in water; this forms a dye or coloring matter with which they paint on their garments the figures of animals. The impression is such that it cannot be washed out; it appears, indeed, to be woven into the cloth, and wears as long as the garment itself."
We are informed by another ancient writer that the pagan nations were accustomed to array the images of their gods in robes of purple. When the prophet Ezekiel took up a lamentation for Tyre, he spoke of the "blue and purple from the isles of Elishah" in which the people were clothed. This reference is said to doubtless refer to the islands of the Aegian Sea, from whence many claim , the Tyrians obtained the shell-fish,—the murex and papura, which produced the dark-blue and bright-scarlet coloring materials, the employment of which contributed so much to the fame of ancient Tyre.
Pliny the younger confirms this statement:
"The Tyrian-purple was the juice of the Purpurea, a shell-fish, the veins of its neck and jaws secreting this royal color, but so little was obtained that it was very rare and cost one thousand Denarii (about $150.00) per pound."
A more modern writer in discussing a crimson or ruby color says:
"By a mistaken sense the Latin word purpurus, has been called purple, by all the English and French writers."
Arbuthnot, London, 1727, in his book "Ancient Coins, Weights and Measures," as the result of his examinations of the most ancient records estimates:
"The Purple was very dear; there were two sorts of Fishes whereof it was made, the Pelagii, (which were those that were caught in the deep) and the Buccini. The Pelagium per Pound was worth 50 Nummi, (8 s. 10 3/4 d.), and the Buceinunt double that, viz. 17 s. 8 3/4 d. (Harduin reads a hundred Pounds at that price.) The Tyrian double Dye per Pound could scarce be bought for L35 9 s., 1 3/4 d."
The very ancient writers state that the most esteemed of the Tyrian purples were those which compared in color with "coagulated bullocks' blood." This estimation seems to go back to the time of the Phoenicians, who were excessively fond of the redder shades of purple which they obtained also from several varieties of shell-fish and comprehended under two species; one (Buccinum) found in cliffs, and the other (Pelagia) which was captured at sea. The first was found on the coasts of the Mediterranean and Atlantic. The Atlantic shells afforded the darkest color, while those of the Phoenician coast itself yielded scarlet shades of wonderful intensity.
Respecting the cost and durability of the Tyrian purple, it is related that Alexander the Great found in the treasury of the Persian monarch 5,000 quintals of Hermione purple of great beauty, and 180 years old, and that it was worth $125 of our money per pound weight. The price of dyeing a pound of wool in the time of Augustus is given by Pliny, and that price is equal to about $160 of our money. It is probable that his remarks refer to some particular tint or quality of color easily distinguished, although not at all clearly defined by Pliny. He also mentions a sort of purple, or hyacinth, which was worth, in the time of Julius Caesar, 100 denarii (about $15 of our money) per pound.
The best authorities of the present day, however, are of opinion that the celebrated Tyrian-purple was extracted from a mollusk known as the Janthina prolongata, a shell abundant in the Mediterranean and very common near Narbonne, where the Tyrian purple dye-works were in operation at least six hundred years before Christ.
The price current of some of the inks and colors of antiquity, as quoted by Arbuthnot, are cited herewith:
Armenian purple 30 hs.=4 s. 10 1/3 d.
India purple from one Denarius, or 7 3/4 d. to 30 Denarii, 19 s. 4 1 2 d.
Pelagium, the juice of one sort fishes that dyed purple, 50 hs.=8 s. 0 7/8 d.
Buccinum the juice of the other fish that dyed purple, 100 hs.=16 s. 1 3/4 d.
Cinnabar 50 hs.=8 s. 0 7/8 d.
Tarentine red purple, price not mentioned.
Melinum, a sort of colour that came from Melos, one Nummus,=1 15/16 d.
Paretonium, a sort of colour that came from aegypt, very lasting, 6 Denarii,=3 s. 10 1/2 d.
Myrobalanus, 2 Denarii,=1 s. 3 1/2 d.
The last-named substance is the fruit of the Termi- nalia, a product of China and the East Indies, best known as Myrabolams and must have been utilized solely for the tannin they contain, which Loewe estimates to be identical with ellago-tannic acid, later discovered in the divi-divi, a fruit grown in South America, and bablah which is also a fruit of a species of Acacia, well known also for its gum.
No monuments are extant of the ancient Myrabolam ink.
Antimony and galls were used by the Egyptian ladies to tint their eyes and lashes and (who knows) to write with.
Many of the dyes employed as ink were those occurring naturally as animal and vegetable products, or which could be produced therefrom by comparatively simple means, otherwise we would not be confronted with the fact that no specimens of ink writing of natural origin remain to us.
The very few specimens of ink writing which have outlasted decay and disintegration through so many ages, are found to be closely allied to materials like bitumen, lampblack obtained from the smoke of oil- torches or resins; or gold, silver, cinnabar and minium.
Josephus asserts that the books of the ancient Hebrews were written in gold and silver.
"Sicca dewat" (A silver ink standeth), as the ancient Arabic proverb runs.
"the monumental hireoglyphics of the Egyptians were almost invariably painted with the liveliest tints; and when similar hireoglyphics were executed on a reduced scale, and in a more cursive form upon papyri or scrolls made from the leaves of the papyrus the pages were written with both black and colored inks."
The early mode of ink writing in biblical times mentioned in Numbers v. 23, where It is said "the priest shall write the curses in a book, and blot them out with the bitter water," was with a kind of ink prepared for the purpose, without any salts of iron or other material which could make a permanent dye; these maledictions were then washed into the water, which the woman was obliged to drink, so that she drank the very words of the execration. The ink still used in the East is almost all of this kind; a wet sponge will obliterate the finest of their writings.
In the book of Jeremiah, chap. xxxvi. verse 18, it says: "Then Baruch answered, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote THEM with ink in the book," and in Ezek. ix. 2, 3, 11, "Ink horn" is referred to.
Six hundred years later in the New Testament is another mention of ink "having many things to write unto you. I would not write with paper and Ink," &c.; second epistle. of John, 12, and again in his third epistle, 13, "I had many things to write, but I will not with pen and Ink write unto thee."
The illustrative history of the ancient Egyptians does not point to a time before the reed was used as a pen. The various sculptures, carvings, pottery and paintings, exhibit the scribes at work in their avocations, recording details about the hands and ears of slaughtered enemies, the numbers of captives, the baskets of wheat, the numerous animals, the tribute, the treaties and the public records. These ancient scribes employed a cylindrical box for ink, with writing tablets, which were square sections of wood with lateral grooves to hold the small reeds for writing.
During the time Joseph was Viceroy of Egypt under Sethosis I, the first of the Pharaohs, B. C. 1717, he employed a small army of clerks and storekeepers throughout Egypt in his extensive grain operations. The scribes whose duties pertained to making records respecting this business, used both red and black inks, contained in different receptacles in a desk, which, when not in use, was placed in a box or trunk, with leather handles at the sides, and in this way was carried from place to place. As the scribe had two colors of ink, he needed two pens (reeds) and we see him on the monuments of Thebes, busy with one pen at work, and the other placed in that most ancient pen-rack, behind the ear. Such, says Mr. Knight, is presented in a painting at Beni Hassan.
The Historical Society of New York possesses a small bundle of these pens, with the stains of the ink yet upon them, besides a bronze knife used for making such pens (reeds), and which are alleged to belong to a period not far removed from Joseph's time. The other history of ink, long preceding the departure of Israel from Egypt, and with few exceptions until after the middle ages, can only be considered, as it is intimately bound up in the chronology and story of handwriting and writing materials. Even then it must not be supposed that the history of ink is authentic and continuous from the moment handwriting was applied to the recording of events; for the earliest records are lost to us in almost every instance. We are therefore dependent upon later writers, who made their records in the inks of their own time, and who could refer to those preceding them only by the aid of legends and traditions.
There is no independent data indicating any variation whatever in the methods of the admixture of black or colored inks, which differentiates them from those used in the earliest times of the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews or Chinese. On the contrary if we exclude "Indian" and one of the red inks, for a period of fourteen hundred years we find their number diminishing until the first centuries of the Christian era. Exaggerated tradition has described inks as well as other things and imagination is not lacking. Some of these legends, in later years put in writing, compel us to depend on translations of obscure and obsolete tongues, while the majority of them are mingled with the errors and superstitious of the time in which they were transcribed.
The value of such accounts depends upon a variety of circumstances and we must proceed with the utmost caution and discrimination in examining and weighing the authenticity of these sources of information.
If we reason that the art of handwriting did not become known to all the ancient nations at once, but was gradually imparted by one to another, it follows that records supposed to be contemporaneous, were made in some countries at a much earlier period than in others. It must also be observed that the Asiatic nations and the Egyptians practiced the art of writing many centuries before it was introduced into Europe. Hence we are able to estimate with some degree of certainty that ink-written accounts of some Asiatic nations were made while Europe was in this respect buried in utter darkness.
An interesting story which bears on this statement is told by Kennett, in his "Antiquities of Rome," London, 1743, as to the discovery of ancient MSS., five hundred and twenty years before the Christian era, of what even then must have been remarkable:
"A strange old woman came once to Tarquinius Superbus with nine books, which, she said, were the oracles of the Sybils, and proffered to sell them. But the king making some scruple about the price, she went away and burnt three of them; and returning with the six, asked the same sum as before. Tarquin only laughed at the humour; upon which the old woman left him once more; and after she had burnt three others, came again with them that were left, but still kept to her old terms. The king now began to wonder at her obstinacy, and thinking there might be something more than ordinary in the business, sent for the augars (soothsayers) to consult what was to be done. They, when their divinations were performed, soon acquainted him what a piece of impiety he had been guilty of, by refusing a treasure sent to him from heaven, and commanded him to give whatever she demanded for the books that remained. The woman received her money, and delivered the writings; and only, charging them by all means to keep them sacred, immediately vanished. Two of the nobility were presently after chosen to be the keepers of these oracles, which were laid up with all imaginable care in the Capitol, in a chest under ground. They could not be consulted without a special order of the Senate, which was never granted, unless upon the receiving of some notable defeat; upon the rising of any considerable mutiny, or sedition in the State; or upon some other extraordinary occasion; several of which we meet with in Livy."
Some of the ancient historians even sought to be misleading respecting the events not only of their own times, but of epochs which preceded them. Richardson, in his "Dissertation on Ancient History and Mythology," published in 1778, remarks:
"The information received hitherto has been almost entirely derived through the medium of the Grecian writers; whose elegance of taste, harmony of language, and fine arrangement of ideas, have captivated the imagination, misled the judgment, and stamped with the dignified title of history, the amusing excursions of fanciful romance. Too proud to consider surrounding nations, (if the Eyptians may be excepted) in any light but that of barbarians; they despised their records, they altered their language, and framed too often their details, more to the prejudices of their fellow citizens, than to the standard of truth or probability. We have names of Persian kings, which a Persian could not pronounce; we have facts related they apparently never knew; and we have customs ascribed to them, which contradict every distinguishing characteristic of an Eastern people. The story of Lysimachus and one Greek historian may indeed, with justice, be applied to many others. This prince, in the partition of Alexander's empire, became King of Thrace: he had been one of the most active of that conqueror's commanders; and was present at every event which deserved the attention of history. A Grecian had written an account of the Persian conquest; and be wished to read it before the king. The monarch listened with equal attention and wonder: 'All this is very fine,' says he, when the historian had finished, 'but where was I when those things were performed?' "
ANTIQUITY OF INK.
THE INVENTION OF THE ART OF WRITING—TO WHOM IT BELONGS—ITS UTILIZATION BY NATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS—WHEN IT IS FIRST MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE—CITATIONS FROM THE ENCYCLOPaeDIA BRITANNICA AND SMITHS DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE—SOME REMARKS BY HUMPHREYS OF THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF HANDWRITING—COMMENTS BY PLATO AND THE COLLOQUY BETWEEN KING THAMUS AND THOTH, THE EGYPTIAN GOD OF THE LIBERAL ARTS—FIRST APPEARANCE OF INK WRITTEN ROLLS—DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLES WHICH CONTAINED THEM—COMMENTS OF THE HISTORIAN ROLLINS—DESTRUCTION OF THE MOST ANCIENT CHINESE INK WRITTEN MSS.
THERE is a difference of opinion as to what nation belongs the honor of the invention of the art of handwriting. Sir Isaac Newton observes:
"There is the utmost uncertainty in the chronology of ancient kingdoms, arising from the vanity of each claiming the greatest antiquity, while those pretensions were favoured by their having no exact account of time."
Its antiquity has been exhaustively treated by many writers; the best known are Massey, 1763, The Origin and Progress of Letters;" Astle, 1803, "The Origin and Progress of Writing;" Silvestre, "Universal Palaeography," Paris, 1839-41 ; and Humphreys, 1855, "The Origin and Progress of the Art of Writing." They, with others, have sought to record the origin and gradual development of the art of writing from the Egyptian Hieroglyphics of 4000 B. C.; the Chinese Figurative, 3000 B. C. ; Indian Alphabetic, 2000 or more B. C. ; the Babylonian or Cuneiform, 2000 years B. C.; and the Phoenician in which they include the Hebrew or Samaritan Alphabet, 2000 or more B. C., down to the writings of the new or Western world of the Christian era.
The data presented and the arguments set forth, deserve profound respect, and though we find some favoring the Egyptians, or the Phoenicians, the Chaldeans, the Syrians, the Indians, the Persians or the Arabians, it is best to accept the concensus of their opinion, which seems to divide between the Phoenicians and the Egyptians as being the inventors of the foremost of all the arts. "For, in Phoenicia, had lived Taaut or Thoth the first Hermes, its inventor, and who later carried his art into Egypt where they first wrote in pictures, some 2200 years B. C."
The art appears to have been first exercised in Greece and the West about 1500 or 1800 B. C., and like all arts, it was doubtless slow and progressive. The Greeks refer the invention of written letters to Cadmus, merely because he introduced them from Phoenicia, then only sixteen in number. To these, four more were added by Simonides. Evander brought letters into Latium from Greece, the Latin letters being at first nearly the same form as the Greek. The Romans employed a device of scattering green sand upon tables, for the teaching of arithmetic and writing, and in India a "sand box" consisting of a surface of sand laid on a board the finger being utilized to trace forms, was the method followed by the natives to teach their children. It is said that such methods still obtain even in this age, in some rural districts of England.
After the invention of writing well-informed nations and individuals kept scribes or chroniclers to record in writing, historical and other events, mingled with claims of antiquity based on popular legends.
These individuals were not always held in the highest esteem. Among the Hebrews it was considered an honorable vocation, while the Greeks for a long time treated its practitioners as outcasts. It was an accomplishment possessed by the few even down to the fifteenth century of the Christian era. The rulers of the different countries were deficient in the art and depended on others to write their documents and letters to which they appended their monogram or the sign of the Cross against their names as an attestation. So late as A. D. 1516 an order was made in London to examine all persons who could write in order to discover the authorship of a seditious document.
The art of writing is not mentioned in the Bible prior to the time of Moses, although as before stated, in Egypt and the countries adjacent thereto it was not only known but practiced.
Its first mention recorded in Scripture will be found in Exodus xvii. v. 14; "And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this, for a memorial, in a book; and rehearse it in the ear of Joshua; for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." This command was given immediately after the defeat of the Amalekites near Horeb, and before the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
It is observable, that there is not the least hint to induce us to believe that writing was then newly invented; on the contrary, we may conclude, that Moses understood what was meant by writing in a book; otherwise God would have instructed him, as he had done Noah in building the Ark; for he would not have been commanded to write in a book, if he had been ignorant of the art of writing; but Moses expressed no difficulty of comprehension when he received this command. We also find that Moses wrote all the works and all the judgments of the Lord, contained in the twenty-first and the two succeeding chapters of the book of Exodus, before the two written tables of stone were even so much as promised. The delivery of the tables is not mentioned till the eighteenth verse of the thirty-first chapter, after God had made an end of communing with him upon the mount, though the ten commandments were promulgated immediately after his third descent.
Moses makes frequent mention of ancient books of the Hebrews, but describes none, except the two tables on which God wrote the ten commandments. These he tells us, were of polished stone, engraven on both sides and as Calmet remarks: "it is probable that Moses would not have observed to us these two particulars so often as he does, were it not to distinguish them from other books, which were made of tables, not of stone, but of wood and curiously engraven, but on one side only."
It cannot be said that Moses uses any language which can be construed to mean the employment of rolls of papyrus, or barks of trees, much less of parchment. We have therefore reason to believe that by the term book, he always means table-books, made of small thin boards or plates.
The edicts, as well as the letters of kings, were written upon tablets and sent to the various provinces, sealed with their signets. Scripture plainly alludes to the custom of sealing up letters, edicts and the tablets on which the prophets wrote their visions.
The practice of writing upon rolls made of the barks of trees is very ancient. It is alluded to in the Book of Job: "Oh! that mine adversary had written a book; surely I would take it upon my shoulders, and bind it as a crown to me." (Old version.) The new one runs: "And that I had the indictment which mine adversary hath written!" The rolls, or volumes, generally speaking, were written upon one side only. This is intimated by Ezekiel who observes that he saw one of in extraordinary form written on both sides: "And when I looked, behold, an Hand was sent unto me, and lo! a roll of a book was therein; and he spread it before me, and it was written within and without."
To have been able to write on dry tablets of wood or barks of trees with the reed or brush, the then only ink-writing instruments in vogue would have necessitated the employment of lampblack suspended in a vehicle of thick gum, or in the form of a paint. Both of these maybe termed pigmentary inks. The use of thin inks would have caused spreading or blotting and thus rendered the writing illegible.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica generalizes its remarks on this subject:—
"The earliest writings were purely monumental and accordingly those materials were chosen which were supposed to last the longest. The same idea of perpetuity which in architecture finds its most striking exposition in the pyramids was repeated, in the case of literary records, in the two columns mentioned by Josephus, the one of stone and the other of brick, on which the children of Seth wrote their inventions and astronomical discoveries; in the pillars in Crete on which, according to Porphyry, the ceremonies of the Corybantes were inscribed; in the leaden tablets containinlu the works of Hesiod, deposited in the temple of the Muses, in Boeotia; in the ten commandments on stone delivered by Moses; and in the laws of Solon, inscribed on planks of wood. The notion of a literary production surviving the destruction of the materials on which it was first written—the 'momentum, aere perennius' of Horace's ambition—was unknown before the discovery of substances for systematic transcription.
"Tablets of ivory or metal were in common use among the Greeks and Romans. When made of wood—sometimes of citron, but usually of beech or fir—their inner sides were coated with wax, on which the letters were traced with a pointed pen or stiletto (stylus), one end of which was used for erasure. It was with his stylus that Caesar stabbed Casca in the arm when attacked by his murderers. Wax tablets of this kind continued in partial use in Europe during the middle ages; the oldest extant specimen, now in the museum at Florence, belongs to the year 1301."
Later the Hebrew Scriptures were written in ink or paint upon the skins of ceremonially clean animals or even birds. These were rolled upon sticks and fastened with a cord, the ends of which were sealed when security was an object. They were written in columns, and usually upon one side, only. The writing was from right to left; the upper margin was three fingers broad, the lower one four fingers; a breadth of two fingers separated the columns. The columns ran across the width of the sheet, the rolled ends of which were held vertically in the respective hands. When one column was read, another was exposed to view by unrolling it from the end in the left hand, while the former was hidden from view by rolling up the end grasped by the right band. The pen was a reed, the ink black, carried in a bottle suspended from the girdle.
The Samaritan Pentateuch is very ancient, as is proved by the criticisms of Talmudic writers. A copy of it was acquired in 1616 by Pietro della Valle, one of the first discoverers of the cuneiform inscriptions. It was thus introduced to the notice of Europe. It is claimed by the Samaritans of Nablus that their copy was written by Abisha, the great-grandson of Aaron, in the thirteenth year of the settlement of the land of Canaan by the children of Israel. The copies of it brought to Europe are all written in black ink on vellum or "cotton" paper, and vary from 12mo to folio. The scroll used by the Samaritans is written in gold letters. (See Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible," vol. III, pp. 1106-1118.) Its claims to great antiquity are not admitted by scholars.
The enumeration of some of the modes of writing may be interesting:
The Mexican writing is in vertical columns, beginning at the bottom.
The Chinese and Japanese write in vertical columns, beginning at the top and passing from left to right.
The Egyptian hieroglyphics are written invertical columns or horizontal lines according to the shape and position of the tablet. It is said that with the horizontal writing the direction is indifferent, but that the figures of men and animals face the beginning of the line. With figures, the units stand on the left.
The Egyptians also wrote from right to left in the hieratic and demotic and enchorial styles. The Palasgians did the same, and were followed by the Etruscans. In the demotic character, Dr. Brugsch remarks that though the general direction of the writing was usually from right to left, yet the individual letters were formed from left to right, as is evident from the unfinished ends of horizontal letters when the ink failed in the pen.
In writing numbers in the hieratic and enchorial the units were placed to the left. The Arabs write from right to left, but received their numerals from India, whence they call them "Hindee," and there the arrangement of their numerals is like our own, units to the right.
The following noteworthy passage is taken from Humphreys' work "On the Origin and Progress of the Art of Writing:"
"Nearly all the principal methods of ancient writing may be divided into square capitals, rounded capitals, and cursive letters; the square capitals being termed simply capitals, the rounded capitals uncials, and the small letters, or such as had changed their form during the creation of a running hand, minuscule. Capitals are, strictly speaking, such letters as retain the earliest settled form of an alphabet; being generally of such angular shapes as could conveniently be carved on wood or stone, or engraved in metal, to be stamped on coins. The earliest Latin MSS. known are written entirely in capitals like inscriptions in metal or marble. * * * * *
The uncial letters, as they are termed, appear to have arisen as writing on papyrus or vellum became common, when many of the straight lines of the capitals, in that kind of writing, gradually acquired a curved form, to facilitate their more rapid execution. However this may be, from the sixth to the eighth, or even 10th century, these uncials or partly rounded capitals prevail.
"The modern minuscule, differing from the ancient cursive character, appears to have arisen in the following manner: During the 6th and 7th centuries, a kind of transition style prevailed in Italy and some other parts of Europe, the letters composing which have been termed semi-uncials, which, in a further transition, became more like those of the old Roman cursive. This manner, when definitely formed, became what is now termed the minuscule manner; it began to prevail over uncials in a certain class of MSS. about the 8th century, and towards the 10th its general use was, with few exceptions, established. It is said to have been occasionally used as early as the 5th century; but I am unable to cite an authentic existing monument. The Psalter of Alfred the Great, written in the 9th century, is in a small Roman cursive hand, which has induced Casley to consider it the work of some Italian ecclesiastic."
The learned who have made a life study of the history of the most ancient manuscripts, mention them specifically in great number and of different countries, which would seem to indicate that the art of handwriting had made great strides in the very olden times; many nations had adopted it, and B. C. 650 "it had spread itself over the (then known) greater part of the civilized world."
We can well believe this to be true in reading about the ancient libraries, notwithstanding that some rulers had sought to prohibit its exercise.
Plato, who lived B. C. 350, expresses his views of the importance of writing in his imaginary colloquy between Thamus, king of Egypt, and Thoth, the god of the liberal arts of the Egyptians; he acquaints us:
"That the discourse turned upon letters. Thoth maintained the value of Writing, as capable of making the People wiser, increasing the powers of Memory; to this the king dissented, and expressed his opinion that by the exercise of this Art the multitude would appear to be knowing of those things of which they were really ignorant, possessing only an idea of Wisdom, instead of Wisdom itself."
Pythagoras, B. C. 532, we are informed by Astle:
"Went into Egypt where he resided twenty-two years; he was initiated into the sacerdotal order, and, from his spirit of inquiry, he has been justly said to have acquired a great deal of Egyptian learning, which he afterwards introduced into Italy. The Pythagorean schools which he established in Italy when writing was taught, were destroyed when the Platonic or new philosophy prevailed over the former. Polybius (lib. ii. p. 175) and Jamblichus (in vita Pythag.) mention many circumstances, relative to these facts, quoted from authors now lost; as doth Porphyry, in his life of Pythagoras."
For the hundred years or more following, however, the dissemination of learning and the transcription of events was not to be denied. We find ink-written volumes (rolls) relating to diverse subjects being loaned to one another; correspondence by letter to and from distant lands of frequent occurrence, and the art of handwriting regularly taught in the schools of learning. Its progress was to be interrupted by the wars of the Persians. Mr. Astle in calling attention to events which have contributed to deprive us of the literary treasures of antiquity thus refers to them:
"A very fatal blow was given to literature, by the destruction of the Phoenician temples, and of the Egyptian colleges, when those kingdoms, and the countries adjacent, were conquered by the Persians, about three hundred and fifty years before Christ. Ochus, the Persian general, ravaged these countries without mercy, and forty thousand Sidonians burnt themselves with their families and riches in their own houses. The conqueror then drove Nectanebus out of Egypt, and committed the like ravages in that country; afterwards he marched into Judea, where he took Jericho, and sent a great number of Jews into captivity. The Persians had a great dislike to the religion of the Phoenicians and the Egyptians; this was one reason for destroying their books, of which Eusebius (De Preparat. Evang.) says, they had a great number."
These losses, apparently, did not interfere with the progress of the art in more western countries. Professor Rollin in his "Ancient History," 1823, remarks:
"Ptolemy Soter, King of Egypt B. C. 285, had been careful to improve himself in public literature, as was evident by his compiling the life of Alexander, which was greatly esteemed by the ancients, but is now entirely lost. In order to encourage the cultivation of the sciences, which he much admired, he founded an academy at Alexandria, called the Museum, where a society of learned men devoted themselves to philosophic studies, and the improvement of all other sciences, almost in the same manner as those of London and Paris. For this purpose, he began by giving them a library, which was prodigiously increased by his successors.
"His son Philadelphus left a hundred thousand volumes in it at the time of his death, and the succeeding princes of that race enlarged it still more, till at last it consisted of seven hundred thousand volumes.
"This library was formed by the following method: All the Greek and other books that were brought into Egypt were seized, and sent to the Museum, where they were transcribed by persons employed for that purpose. The copies were then delivered to the proprietors, and the originals were deposited in the library.
"As the Museum was at first in that quarter of the city which was called Bruchion, and near the royal palace, the library was founded in the same place, and it soon drew vast numbers thither; but when it was so much augmented, as to contain four hundred thousand volumes, they began to deposit the additional books in the Serapion. This last library was a supplement to the former, for which reason it received the appellation of its Daughter, and in process of time had in it three hundred thousand volumes.
"In Caesar's war with the inhabitants of Alexandria, a fire, occasioned by those hostilities, consumed the library of Bruchion, with its four hundred thousand volumes. Seneca seems to me to be out of humour, when, speaking of the conflagration, he bestows his censures both on the library itself, and the eulogium made on it by Livy, who styles it an illustrious monument of the opulence of the Egyptian kings, and of their judicious attention to the improvement of the sciences. Seneca, instead of allowing it to be such, would have it considered only as a work resulting from the pride and vanity of those monarchs, who had amassed such a number of books, not for their own use, but merely for pomp and ostentation. This reflection, however, seems to discover very little sagacity; for is it not evident beyond contradiction, that none but kings are capable of founding these magnificent libraries, which become a necessary treasure to the learned, and do infinite honour to those states in which they are established?
"The library of Serapion, did not sustain any damage, and it was undoubtedly there that Cleopatra deposited those two hundred thousand volumes from that of Pergamus, which was presented to her by Antony. This addition, with other enlargements that were made from time to time, rendered the new library of Alexandria more numerous and considerable than the first; and though it was ransacked more than once, during the troubles and revolutions which happened in the Roman empire, it always retrieved its losses, and recovered its number of volumes. In this condition it subsisted for many ages, displaying its treasures to the learned and curious, till the seventh century, when it suffered the same fate with its parent, and was burnt by the Saracens, when they took that city in the year of our Lord 642. The manner by which this misfortune happened is too singular to be passed over in silence.
"John, surnamed the Grammarian, a famous follower of Aristotle, happened to be at Alexandria, when the city was taken; and as he was much esteemed by Amri Ebnol As, the general of the Saracen troops, he entreated that commander to bestow upon him the Alexandrian library. Amri replied, that it was not in his power to grant such a request; but that he would write to the Khalif, or emperor of the Saracens, for his orders on that head, without which he could not presume to dispose of the library. He accordingly wrote to Omar, the then Khalif, whose answer was, that if those books contained the same doctrine with the Koran, they could not be of any use, because the Koran was sufficient in itself, and comprehended all necessary truths; but if they contained any particulars contrary to that book, they ought to be destroyed. In consequence to this answer, they were all condemned to the flames, without any further examination; and, for that purpose, were distributed among the public baths; where, for the space of six months, they were used for fuel instead of wood. We may from hence form a just idea of the prodigious number of books contained in that library; and thus was this inestimable treasure of learning destroyed!
The Museum of Bruchion was not burnt with the library which was attached to it. Strabo acquaints us, in his description of it, that it was a very large structure near the palace, and fronting the port; and that it was surrounded with a portico, in which the philosophers walked. He adds, that the members of this society were governed by a president, whose station was so honourable and important, that, in the time of the Ptolemies, he was always chosen by the king himself, and afterwards by the Roman emperor; and that they had a hall where the whole society ate together at the expense of the public, by whom they were supported in a very plentiful manner."
Among the other events contributing to the deplorable losses which mankind has sustained in this respect, a sad one was when the most ancient ink writings of the Chinese were ordered to be destroyed by their emperor Chee-Whange-Tee, in the third century before Christ, with the avowed purpose that everything should begin anew as from his reign. The small portion of them which escaped destruction were recovered and preserved by his successors.
CLASSICAL INK AND ITS EXODUS.
THE MATERIALS AND METHODS EMPLOYED IN PREPARING THE INK MSS. OF ANTIQUITY—THE INTRODUCTION OF PARCHMENT AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR PAPYRUS—MODE OF WRITING ON PARCHMENT—HOW SEPARATE PIECES WERE FIRST JOINED INTO BOOK FORM—EVIDENCE OF THE CHARACTER OF WRITING UTENSILS TO BE FOUND IN ANCIENT PICTURES—SOME FORMULAS BY THE YOUNGER PLINY AND HIS CONTEMPORARY DIOSCORIDES—HOW THE GREEKS AND ROMANS KEPT THEIR PAPYRI FROM BREAKING—WHEN BLACK INK BEGAN TO FALL INTO DISUSE AND ITS CAUSE—THE ADOPTION OF THE STYLUS AND ITS ACCOMPANYING SHEETS OF LEAD, IVORY, METAL AND WOOD COATED WITH WAX—THE EFFORTS MADE TO RESUME THE USE OF SOME INK WHICH WOULD BIND TO PARCHMENT—WHY THERE ARE NO ORIGINAL MSS. EXTANT BELONGING TO THE TIME OF CHRIST—THE INVENTION OF THE VITRIOLIC INKS—HUMPHREY'S BLUNDER IN LOCATING DATES OF EARLY GREEK MSS.—THE DESTRUCTION OF THE CITIES OF HERCULANEUM AND POMPEII—AWAKENING OF INTEREST AGAIN ABOUT THE EMPLOYMENT OF INKS—REDISCOVERIES OF SOME OF THE MORE REMOTE ANCIENT RECIPES—THE WRITERS IN GOLD AND SILVER—RECORDED INSTANCES OF ILLUMINATED MSS.—PASSAGE FROM THE BOOK OF JOB WRITTEN BY ST. JEROME—DENIAL OF THE EMPLOYMENT OF TANNO- GALLATE OF IRON INK IN THE FOURTH CENTURY— DESTRUCTION OF THE INSPIRED WRITINGS BY ORDER OF THE ROMAN SENATE—THE ECLIPSE OF CLASSICAL LITERATURE AND DISMEMBERMENT OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE—POEM ON THE THOUSAND YEARS KNOWN AS THE DARK AGES WHICH FOLLOWED.
THEOPHRASTUS says that the papyrus books of the ancients were no other than rolls prepared in the following manner: Two leaves of the rush were plastered together, usually with the mud of the Nile, in such a fashion that the fibres of one leaf should cross the fibres of the other at right angles; the ends of each being then cut off, a square leaf was obtained, equally capable of resisting fracture when pulled or taken hold of in any direction. In this form the papyri were exported in great quantities. In order to form these single leaves into the "scapi," or rolls of the ancients, about twenty were glued together end to end. The writing was then executed in parallel columns a few inches wide, running transversely to the length of the scroll. To each end of the scrolls were attached round staves similar to those we use for maps. To these staves, strings, known as "umbilici," were attached, to the ends of which bullae or weights were fixed. The books when rolled up, were bound up with these umbilici, and were generally kept in cylindrical boxes or capsae, a term from which the Mediaeval "capsula," or book-cover was derived. "The mode in which the students held the rolls in order to read from them is well shown in a painting in the house of a surgeon at Pompeii. One of the staves, with the papyrus rolled round it, was held in each hand, at a distance apart equal to the width of one or more of the transverse columns of writing. As soon as the eye was carried down to the bottom of a column, one hand rolled up and the other unrolled sufficient of the papyrus to bring a fresh column opposite to the reader's eye, and so on until the whole was wound round one of the staves, when, of course, the student had arrived at the end of his book."
Eumenes, king of Pergamus, being unable to procure the Egyptian papyrus, through the jealousy of one of the Ptolemies, who occupied himself in forming a rival library to the one which subsequently became so celebrated at Pergamus, introduced the use of Parchment properly "dressed" for taking ink and pigments and hence the derivation of the word "pergamena" as applied to parchment or vellum, the former substance being the prepared skin of sheep, and the latter of calves.
The sheets of parchment were joined end to end, as the sheets of papyrus had been, and when written upon, on one side only, and in narrow columns across the breadth of the scroll, were rolled up around staves and bound with strings, to which seals of wax were occasionally attached, in place of the more common leaden bullae.
The custom of dividing wax, ivory, wood and metal MSS. into pages and in this way into book form is said by Suetonius to have been introduced by Julius Caesar, whose letters to the Senate were so made up, and after whose time the practice became usual for all documents either addressed to, or issuing from that body, or to or from the Emperors. As that form subsequently crept into general use, the books were known as "codices;" and hence the ordinary term as applied to manuscript volumes.
All classes of "books," the reeds for writing in them, the inkstands, and the "capsae" or "scrinia," the boxes in which the "scapi" or rolls were kept, are minutely portrayed in ancient wall-paintings and ivory diptychs (double tablets), and which may belong to a period near the beginning of the Christian era.
Pliny and Dioscorides have given the formulas for the writing inks used by the Greek and Roman scribes immediately before and during their time. Pliny declares that the ink of the bookmakers was made of soot, charcoal and gum, although he does not state what fluid was employed to commingle them. He does, however, mention to an occasional use of some acid (vinegar) to give the ink a binding property on the papyrus.
Dioscorides, however, specifies the proportions of this "soot" ink. Another formula alluded to by the same author calls for a half ounce each of copperas (blue) and ox-glue, with half pound of smoke black made from burned resin. He adds, "is a good application in cases of gangrene and is useful in scalds, if a little thickened and employed as a salve." De Vinne speaks of this as a "crude" receipt which will enable one to form a correct opinion of the quality of scientific knowledge then applied to medicine and the mechanical arts; also that these mixtures which are more like shoe blacking than writing fluid were used with immaterial modifications by the scribes of the dark ages.
The old Greeks and Romans had no substitute for the papyrus, which was so brittle that it could not be folded or creased. It could not be bound up in books, nor could it be rolled up unsupported. It was secure only when it had been wound around a wooden or metal roller.
After the wholesale destruction of the libraries of ink-written MSS., the black inks began to fall into disuse; their value in respect to quality gradually deteriorated, caused by the displacement of gummy vehicles, and a consequent absence of any chance of union between the parchment or papyrus and the dry black particles, which could be "blown" or washed off. To employ any other kind of ink except one of natural origin like the juice of berries which soon disappeared, was forbidden by prevailing religious customs. Such conditions naturally merged into others, in the shape of "ink" substitutes for writing; the stylus, with its accompanying sheets or tablets of ivory, wood, metal and wax came into popular vogue and so continued for many centuries, even after the employment of ink for writing purposes had been resumed.
Ovid, in his story of Caunus and Byblis, illustrates the use of the tables (tablets), and he lived at the time of the birth of Christ, thus translated:
"Then fits her trembling hands to Write: One holds the Wax, the Style the other guides, Begins, doubts, writes, and at the Table chides; Notes, razes, changes oft, dislikes, approves, Throws all aside, resumes what she removes. * * * * * * * * "The Wax thus filled with her successless wit, She Verses in the utmost margin writ."
He also makes reference to inks, in the passage taken from his first elegy, "Ad Librum:"
"Nec te purpureo velent vaccinia succo; Non est conveniens luctibus ille color. Nec titulus minio, nec cedro charta notetur. Candida nec nigra cornua fronte geras."
which Davids translates as follows:
"TO HIS BOOK.
"Nor shall huckleberries stain (literally veil) thee with purple juice: That color is not becoming to lamentations. Nor shall title (or head-letter) be marked with vermillion, or paper with cedar, Thou shalt carry neither white nor black horns on thy forehead (or front, or frontispiece)."
The traditions handed down as of this era relating to the efforts to find some substitute for "Indian" ink which would not only "bind" to parchment and vellum but also would be satisfactory to the priests, are more or less confirmed by the younger Pliny, and makes it safe to assume that several were invented and employed in writing, though possessing but little lasting qualities. Their use and natural disappearance is perhaps the real cause of the fact that there are no original MSS. extant dating as of or belonging to the time immediately preceding or following the birth of Christ, or indeed until long after his death.
There is some authority though for the statement that at this time two vitriolic substances were used in the preparation of black ink,—a slime or sediment (Salsugo) and a yellow vitriolic earth (Misy). This last-named mineral, is unquestionably the same natural chemical mentioned by writers, which about the end of the first century was designated "kalkanthum" or "chalkanthum" and possessed not only the appearance of, but the virtues of what we know as blue copperas or sulphate of copper. It continued in use as long as men were unacquainted with the art of lixiviating salt, or, in other words, as long as they had no vitriol manufactories. Commingled with lampblack, bitumen or like black substances in gummy water, it was acceptable to the priests for ritualistic writings and was in general vogue for several centuries thereafter under the name of (blue) "vitriolic" ink, notwithstanding the fact that there could not be any lasting chemical union between such materials.
It was the so-called "vitriolic" ink, which is said to have "corroded the delicate leaves of the papyrus and to have eaten through both parchment and vellum."
These deductions, however, do not agree with some of the historians and scholars like Noel Humphreys, author of the "Origin and Progress of the Art of Writing," London, 1855, a recognized authority on the subject of ancient MSS., who but repeats in part the text of earlier writers, when he says, p. 101:
"Examples of early Greek MSS. of the last century previous to the Christian era are not confined to Egyptian sources; the buried city of Herculaneum, in Italy, partially destroyed about seventy- nine years before the Christian era, and injured by subsequeut eruptions, till totally destroyed by the most violent eruption of Vesuvius on record, that of the year 471 A. D. having yielded several specimens."
The MSS. examples mentioned in the citation, must of necessity refer to specimens of writing made with "vitriolic" and even more ancient inks. They are to be considered in conjunction with the historical fact that these cities were buried for more than sixteen hundred years, counting from the first eruption, before they were brought to light (Herculaneum was discovered A. D. 1713 and Pompeii, forty years later); also that they must have been subjected to intense heat and a long period of decay which could only operate to rob them of all traces of natural ink phenomena. Furthermore, the information Mr. Humphreys seeks to convey, dates contemporaneously with the first eruption of Vesuvius, which occurred seventy-nine years AFTER the Christian era and not seventy-nine years BEFORE it.
This stupendous blunder involves a period of one hundred and fifty-eight years; if it is rectified, the "early Greek MSS." are shown to emanate from the second half of the first century following the birth of Christ and confirming to some extent the deductions hereinbefore made, although the probabilities are that they belong to later periods, included in the third and fourth centuries.
It is affirmed that the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius A. D. 79, did not entirely destroy the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and that they emerged from their ruins in the reign of the Emperor Titus. They are also mentioned as inhabited cities in the chart of Peutinger, which is of the date of Constantine.
The next eruption, A. D. 471, was probably the most frightful on record if we exclude the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pelee, which occurred in Martinique, West Indies, in 1902, destroying thirty thousand human beings in fifteen minutes and devastating nearly the entire island. From Marcellinus we learn that the ashes of the Vesuvius volcano were vomited over a great portion of Europe, reaching to Constantinople, where a festival was instituted in commemoration of the strange phenomenon. After this, we hear no more of these cities, but the portion of the inhabitants who escaped built or occupied suburbs at Nola in Campania and at Naples. In the latter city, the Regio Herculanensium, or Quarter of the Herculaneans, an inscription marked on several lapidary monuments, indicates the part devoted to the population driven from the doomed city.
The ancient inkstand found at Herculaneum, said to contain a substance resembling a thick oil or paint characteristic of a material which it is alleged, "some of the manuscripts have been written in a sort of relievo, visible in the letters when a 'leaf' is held to the light in a horizontal direction," it is not impossible, indeed it is quite probable, belonged to an era centuries later than the period to which it has been assigned.
"No perfect papyri, but only fragments, have been found at Pompeii. At Herculaneum, up to the year 1825, 1,756 had been obtained, besides many others destroyed by the workmen, who imagined them to be mere sticks of charcoal. Most of them were found in a suburban villa, in a room of small dimensions, ranged in presses round the sides of the room, in the center of which stood a sort of rectangular bookcase.
"Sir Humphry Davy, after investigating their chemical nature, arrived at the conclusion that they had not been carbonized by heat, but changed by the long action of air and moisture; and he visited Naples in hopes of rendering the resources of chemistry available towards deciphering these long-lost literary treasures. His expectations, however, were not fully crowned with success, although the partial efficacy of his methods was established; and he relinquished the pursuit at the end of six months, partly from disappointment, partly from a belief that vexatious obstacles were thrown in his way by the jealousy of the persons to whom the task of unrolling had been intrusted. About five hundred volumes have been well and neatly unrolled. It is rather remarkable that, as far as can be learned, no manuscript of any known standard work has been found, nor, indeed, any production of any of the great luminaries of the ancient world. The most celebrated person of whom any work has been found is Epicurus, whose treatise, De Natura, has been successfully unrolled. This and a few other treatises have been published. The library in which this was found appears to have been rich in treatises on the Epicurean philosophy. The only Latin work which it contained was a poem, attributed to Rabirius, on the war of Caesar and Antony."
Beginning with A. D. 200, the employment of inks became more and more constant and popular. Rediscoveries of ancient formulas belonging to a more remote antiquity multiplied in number. Silver ink was again quite common in most countries. Red ink made of vermilion (a composition of mercury, sulphur and potash) and cinnabar (native mercuric sulphide) were employed in the writing of the titles as was blue ink made of indigo, cobalt or oxide of copper. Tyrian purple was used for coloring the parchment or vellum. The "Indian" inks made by the Chinese were imported and used in preference to those of similar character manufactured at home. The stylus and waxed tablets though still used, in a measure gave way to the reawakened interest in ink and ink writings.
A greater facility in writing, due to the gradual reduction in size of the uncial (inch) letters was thereby attained.
There were "writers in gold" and "writers in silver" who travelled from the East into Greece and who bad found their way before the third century into the very heart of Rome. Their business was to embellish the manuscript writings of those times. It was considered en regale for authors to "illuminate" their MSS. and those who failed to do so suffered in popularity.
These authors frequently allude to their use of red, black and secret inks.
Martial in his first epistle points out the bookseller's shop opposite the Julian Forum where his works may be obtained "smoothed with pumice stone and decorated with purple." Seneca mentions books ornamented "cum imaginabus." Varro is related by the younger Pliny to have illustrated his works by pictures of more than seven hundred illustrious persons. Martial dwells on the edition of Virgil, with his portrait as a frontispiece.
The earliest recorded instance of the richer adornments of golden lettering on purple or rose-stained vellum is given by Julius Capitolinus in his life of the Emperor Maximinus the younger. He therein mentions that the mother of the emperor presented to him on his return to his tutor (early in the third century), a copy of the works of Homer, written in gold upon purple vellum.
The fugitive character, as before stated, of a great many of the colored inks, and indeed most of the black ones which were undoubtedly employed, is the principal reason why so few specimens of them remain to us. Those which have proved themselves so lasting in character as to be still extant, bear evidence of extreme care in the preparation of both the inks and the materials on which the writings appear. Perhaps one of the finest illustrations of this practice is to be found in a book of the Four Gospels of Italian origin, discovered in the tenth century (a work of the fourth century) and deposited in the Harlein Library. This book is written in "Indian" ink and possesses magnificently embellished and illuminated letters at the beginning of each Gospel, which are on vellum stained in different colors.
St. Jerome calls attention to this class of books in a well-known passage of his preface to the Book of Job, also written in the fourth century, where he explains as translated:
"Let those who will have old books written in gold and silver on purple parchment, or, as they are commonly called, in uncial-letters,—rather ponderous loads than books,—so long as they permit me and mine to have copies, and rather correct than beautiful books."
It has been said that the Tanno-gallate of Iron Inks (iron salts, nut-galls and gum) were first used in the fourth century. There is positively no credible authority for such a statement, nor is there a single monument in the shape of a documentary specimen of ink writing of that one or an earlier century made with such an ink in any public or private library and as far as known in existence.
About A. D. 390 the inspired writings (often termed pagan) of the classical countries, or at least the copies or extracts of them, upon a special search made by order of the Roman Senate, including those already mentioned as of the time of Tarquin (some nine hundred years earlier), were gathered up in Greece, Italy and other parts and destroyed, because, as we are informed, this Roman Senate had embraced the Christian faith and furthermore "such vanities began to grow out of fashion; till at last Stilicho burnt them all under Honorius (a son of Theodosius the Great), for which he is so severely censured by the noble poet Rutilius, in his ingenious itinerary."
Not only Roman Arms the Wretch betrayed To barbarous Foes; before that cursed Deed, He burnt the Writings of the sacred Maid, We hate Althaea for the fatal Brand; When Nisius fell, the weeping Birds complained: More cruel he than the revengeful Fair; More cruel heth at Nisius' Murderer. Whose impious Hands into the Flames have thrown The Heavenly Pledges of the Roman Crown, Unrav'lling all the Doom that careful Fate had spun."
The destruction of Rome by Alaric, King of the Western Goths, A. D. 410, and the subsequent dismemberment of the entire Roman Empire by the barbarians of the North who followed in his wake, announced that ancient history had come to an end.
It may be truly said as well that the ending of the ancient history of the black and colored writing inks which began in the obscurity of tradition between 2000 and 1800 B. C., a period of some 2200 years, was also contemporaneous with these events.
The eclipse of ink-written literature for at least 500 of the 1000 years which followed, and known as the Middle or "Dark" Ages, except in the Church alone, who seem to have kept up the production of manuscript books principally for ecclesiastical and medical purposes was complete. Hence, any information pertaining to those epochs about ink, writing materials and ink writings, must be sought for in the undestroyed records and the ink writings themselves left by the fathers of the Church. All else is tainted and of doubtful authority.
* * * * * * * *
"When waned the star of Greece was there no cry, To rouse her people from their lethargy? Was there no sentry on the Parthenon— No watch-fire on the field of Marathon, When science left the Athenian city's gate, To seek protection from a nameless fate? The sluggish sentry slept—no cry was heard No hands the glimm'ring watch-fire's embers stirr'd. Fair science unmolested left the land, That she had nurtured with maternal hand; And wandered forth some genial spot to find, Where she might rear her altar to the mind. "Long thro' the darken'd ages of a world, Back to primeval chaos rudely hurled, She journey'd on amid the gath'ring gloom, A spectre form emerging from the tomb. Earth had no resting place—no worshipper— No dove returned with olive branch to her: Her lamp burned dimly, yet its flick'ring light, Guided the wanderer thro' the lengthen'd night. Oft in her weary search, she paused the while, To catch one gleam of hope—one favour'd smile; But the dim mists of ignorance still threw, Their blighting influence o'er the famish'd few, Who deigned to look upon that lustrous eye, Which pierced the ages of futurity.
"For ten long centuries she groped her way, Through gloom, and darkness, ruin and decay; Yet came at last the morning's rosy light, A thousand echoes hail'd the glorious sight— Joy thrill'd the universe—one iningled cry Of exultation, pealed along the sky! Science came forth in richer robes arrayed She trod a pathway ne'er before essayed; Up the steep mount of fame she fleetly pressed, And hung her trophies on its gilded crest."
CLASSICAL INK AND ITS EXODUS (CONTINUED).
DESTRUCTION OF THE PERGAMUS LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA— SOME OBSERVATIONS BY SIR THOMAS ASTLE —COMPARISON OF HIS STATEMENTS WITH THOSE OF PROFESSOR ANTHON RELATIVE TO FRAGMENTS OF ANTIQUITY WHICH REMAIN—AUTHENTICITY OF THEM NOT DISTURBED IF THEY ARE OF PROPER AGE —TAYLOR'S VIEWS ON THIS SUBJECT.
THE storming of Alexandria and the destruction of the Pergamus library, composed largely of ink-written volumes, by the Saracens, A. D. 642, has already been reverted to. Astle observes:
"Thus perished by fanatical madness, the inestimable Alexandrian library, which is said to have contained at that time upwards of five hundred thousand volumes; and from this period, barbarity and ignorance prevailed for several centuries. In Italy and all over the west of Europe learning was in a measure extinguished, except some small remains which were preserved in Constantinople.
"Theodosious, the younger, was very assiduous in augmenting this library, by whom, in the latter end of the fourth century, it was enlarged to one hundred thousand volumes, above one-half of which were burnt in the fifth century by the Emperor Leo the First, so famous for his hatred to images.
"The inhabitants of Constantinople had not lost their taste for literature in the beginning of the thirteenth century, when this city was sacked by the Crusaders, in the year 1205; the depredations then committed are related in Mr. Harris's posthumous works, vol. ii, p. 301, from Nicetas the Choniate, who was present at the sacking of this place. His account of the statues, bustos, bronzes, manuscripts, and other exquisite remains of antiquity, which then perished, cannot be read by any lover of arts and learning without emotion.
"The ravages committed by the Turks who plundered Constantinople, in the year 1453, are related by Philelphus, who was a man of learning, and was tutor to aeneas Sylvius (afterwards pope, under the name of Pius the Second) and was an eye-witness to what passed at that time. This tutor says, that the persons of quality, especially the women, still preserved the Greek language uncorrupted. He observes, that though the city had been taken before, it never suffered so much as at that time; and adds, that, till that period, the remembrance of ancient wisdom remained at Constantinople, and that no one among the Latins was deemed sufficiently learned, who had riot studied for some time at that place; he expressed his fear that all the works of the ancients would be destroyed.
"Still, however, there are the remains of three libraries at Constantinople: the first is called that of Constantine the Great; the second is for all ranks of people without distinction; the third is in the palace, and is called the Ottoman library; but a fire consumed a great part of the palace, and almost the whole library, when as is supposed, Livy and a great many valuable works of the ancients perished. Father Possevius has given an account of the libraries at Constantinople, and in other parts of the Turkish dominions, in his excellent work entitled, Apparatus Sacer. (He calls attention to no less than six thousand authors.)
Many other losses of the writings of the ancients have been attributed to the zeal of the Christians, who at different periods made great havock amongst the Heathen authors. Not a single copy of the work of Celsus is now to be found, and what we know of that work is from Origen, his opponent. The venerable fathers, who employed themselves in erasing the best works of the most eminent Greek or Latin authors, in order to transcribe the lives of saints or legendary tales upon the obliterated vellum, possible mistook these lamentable depredations for works of piety. The ancient fragment of the 91st book of Livy, discovered by Mr. Bruns, in the Vatican, in 1772, was much defaced by the pious labours of some well-intentioned divine. The Monks made war on books as the Goths had done before them. Great numbers of manuscripts have also been destroyed in this kingdom (Great Britain) by its invaders, the Pagan Danes, and the Normans, by the civil commotions raised by the barons, by the bloody contests between the houses of York and Lancaster, and especially by the general plunder and devastations of monasteries and religious houses in the reign of Henry the Eighth; by the ravages committed in the civil war in the time of Charles the First, and by the fire that happened in the Cottonian library, October 23, 1731."
Mr. Astle's comments on the volumes or remnants of volumes which remain to us, becomes most interesting in the lights thrown on them by Professor Anthon in his "Classical Dictionary," 1841, which are quoted in part following those of Mr. Astle.
Mr. Astle remarks:
"The history of Phoenicia by Sanconiatho, who was a contemporary with Solomon, would have been entirely lost to us, had it not been for the valuable fragments preserved by Eusebius."
Says Prof. Anthon:
"Sanchoniathon, a Phoenician author, who if the fragments of his works that have reached us be genuine, and if such a person ever existed, must be regarded as the most ancient writer of whom we have any knowledge after Moses. As to the period when be flourished, all is uncertain. He is the author of three principal works, which were written in Phoenician. They were translated into the Greek language by Herennius Philo, who lived in the second century of our era. It is from this translation which we obtain all the fragments of Sanchoniathon that have reached our times. Philo had divided his translation into nine books, of which Porphyry made use in his diatribe against the Christians. It is from the fourth book of this lost work that Eusebius took, for an end directly opposite to this, the passages which have come down to us. And thus we have those documents relating to the mythology and history of the Phoenicians from the fourth hand."
Mr. Astle continues:
"Manetho's History of Egypt, and the History of Chaldea, by Berosus, have nearly met with the same fate."
"Berosus; a Babylonian historian. He was a priest of the temple of Belus in the time of Alexander. The ancients mention three books of his of which Josephus and Eusebius have preserved fragments. Annius of Viterbo published a work under the name of Berosus, which was soon discovered to be a forgery."
"The Historical Library of Diodorus Siculus consisted likewise of forty books, but only fifteen are now extant; that is, five between the fifth and the eleventh, and the last ten, with some fragments collected out of Photius and others."
"Diodorus, surnamed Siculus, a contemporary of Julius Caesar and Agustus. He published a general history in forty books, under the title 'Historical Library,' which covered a period of 1138 years. We have only a small part remaining of this vast compilation. These rescued portions we owe to Eusebius, to John Malala and other writers of the lower empire, who have cited them in the course of their works. He is the reputed author of the famous sophism against motion. 'If any body be moved, it is moved in the place where it is, or in a place where it is not, for nothing can act or suffer where it is not, and therefore there is no such thing as motion.' "
"The General History of Polybius originally contained forty books; but the first five only, with some extracts or fragments, are transmitted to us."
"Polybius, an eminent Greek historian, born about, B. C. 203. Polybius gave to the world various historical writings, which are entirely lost with the exception of his General History. It embraced a period of 53 years. Of the forty books which it originally comprehended, time has spared only the first five entire. Of the rest, as far as the seventeenth, we have merely fragments though of considerable size. Of the remaining books we have nothing left except what is found in two merger abridgments which the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, in the tenth century caused to be made of the whole work."
"Dionysius Halicarnassensis wrote twenty books of Roman antiquities, extending from the siege of Troy, to the Punic war A. U. C. 488; but only eleven of them are now remaining, which reach no further than the year of Rome 312."
"He was born in the first century B. C. His principal work was 'Roman Antiquities.' It originally consisted of twenty books, of which the first ten remain entire. Dionysius wrote for the Greeks, and his object was to relieve them from the mortification which they felt at being conquered by a race of barbarians, as they considered the Romans to be. And this he endeavored to effect by twisting and forging testimonies, and botching up the old legends, so as to make out a prima facie proof of the Greek origin of the city of Rome. Valuable additions were made in 1816, by Mai, from an old MSS."
"Appian is said to have written the Roman History in twenty-four books; but the greatest part of the works of that author is lost."
"He was the author of a Roman History in twenty-four books which no longer exist entire; the parts missing have been supplied but was not written by Appian but is a mere compilation from Plutarch's Lives of Crassus and Antony."
"Dion Cassius wrote eighty books of history, but only twenty-five are remaining, with some fragments, and an epitome of the last twenty by Xiphilinus."
"His true name was Cassius, born A. D. 155; —we have fragments remaining of the first thirty- six books, they comprehend a period from B. C. 65 to B. C. 10;—they were found by Mai in two Vatican MSS., which contain a sylloge or collection made by Maximus Planudes (who lived in the fourteenth century. He was the first Greek that made use of the Arabic numerals as they are called)."
Mr. Astle further observes:
"The Emperor Tacitus ordered ten copies of the works of his relation, the historian, to be made every year which he sent into the different provinces of the empire; and yet, notwithstanding his endeavours to perpetuate these inestimable works, they were buried in oblivion for many centuries. Since the restoration of learning an ancient MSS. was discovered in a monastery in Westphalia, which contained the most valuable part of his annals; but in this unique manuscript, part of the fifth, seventh, ninth and tenth books are deficient, as are part of the eleventh, and the latter part of the sixteenth. This MSS. was procured by that great restorer of learning Pope Leo X., under whose patronage it was printed at Rome in 1515; he afterwards deposited it in the Vatican library, where it is still preserved. Thus posterity is probably indebted to the above magnificent Pontiff, for the most valuable part of the works of this inimitable historian."
Accounts which differentiate in their descriptive details of questioned ink-written fragments of antiquity and on the genuineness or authenticity of which rests the truth or falsity of ancient history or other literature, serve to taint such remains with a certain degree of suspicion and doubt. When, however, in the light of investigation, the materials of which they are composed are found to approach closely the age they purport to represent, then it is that such fragments can be said to have fairly established their own identity.
"The remote antiquity of a manuscript is of ten established by the peculiar circumstance of its existing BENEATH another writing. Some invaluable manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures, and not a few precious fragments of classic literature, have been thus brought to light.
"The age of a manuscript may often be ascertained with little chance of error, by some such indications as the following:—the quality or appearance of the INK, the nature of the material; that is to say, whether it be soft leather, or parchment, or the papyrus of Egypt, or the bombycine paper; for these materials succeeded each other, in common use, at periods that are well known;— the peculiar form, size, and character of the writing; for a regular progression in the modes of writing may be traced by abundant evidence through every age from the remotest times;—the style of the ornaments or illuminations, as they are termed, often serves to indicate the age of the book which they decorate.
"From such indications as these, more or less definite and certain, ancient manuscripts, now extant, are assigned to various periods, extending from the sixteenth, to the fourth century of the Christian era; or perhaps, in one or two instances, to the third or second. Very few can claim an antiquity so high as the fourth century; but not a few are safely attributed to the seventh; and a great proportion of those extant were unquestionably executed in the tenth; while many belong to the following four hundred years. It is, however, to be observed, that some manuscripts, executed at so late a time as the thirteenth, or even the fifteenth century, afford clear internal evidence that, by a single remove only, the text they contain claims a REAL antiquity, higher than that even of the oldest existing copy of the same work. For these older copies sometimes prove, by the peculiar nature of the corruptions which have crept into the text, that they have been derived through a long series of copies; while perhaps the text of the more modern manuscripts possesses such a degree of purity and freedom from all the usual consequences of frequent transcription, as to make it manifest that the copy from which it was taken, was so ancient as not to be far distant from the time of the first publication of the work."
REVIVAL OF INK.
THE DISAPPEARANCE AND PRESERVATION OF INK WRITINGS, AS ESTIMATED BY LA CROIX—COMMENTS OF OTHER WRITERS—DE VINNE'S INTERESTING EXPLANATIONS OF THE STATUS QUO OF MANUSCRIPT WRITINGS DURING THE DARK AGES WHICH PRECEDED THE INVENTION OF PRINTING—PRICES PAID FOR BOOKS IN ANCIENT TIMES—LIMITATIONS OF HANDWRITING AND HANDWRITING MATERIALS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE FIFTH CENTURY—WHO CONTROLLED THE RECORDS ABOUT THEM—INVENTION OF THE QUILL PEN—THE CAUSE OF INCREASED FLUIDITY OF INKS—ORIGIN OF THE SECRETA—CHARACTER OF INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM THEM—IMPROVEMENT OF BLACK INKS IN THE EIGHTH CENTURY AND EMPLOYMENT OF POMEGRANITE INK.
LA CROIX' preface to his "Science and Literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance," refers to the Dark Ages:
"In the beginning of the Middle Ages, at the commencement of the fifth century, the Barbarians made an inroad upon the old world; their renewed invasions crushed out, in the course of a few years, the Greek and Roman civilization; and everywhere darkness succeeded to light. The religion of Jesus Christ was alone capable of resisting this barbarian invasion, and science and literature, together with the arts, disappeared from the face of the earth, taking refuge in the churches and monasteries. It was there that they were preserved as a sacred deposit, and it was thence that they emerged when Christianity had renovated pagan society. But centuries and centuries elapsed before the sum of human knowledge was equal to what it had been at the fall of the Roman empire. A new society, moreover, was needed for the new efforts of human intelligence as it resumed its rights. Schools and universities were founded under the auspices of the clergy and of the religious corporations, and thus science and literature were enabled to emerge from their tombs. Europe, amidst the tumultuous conflicts of the policy which made and unmade kingdoms, witnessed a general revival of the scholastic zeal; poets, orators, novelists, and writers increased in numbers and grew in favour; savants, philosophers, chemists and alchemists, mathematicians and astronomers, travellers and naturalists, were awakened, so to speak, by the life-giving breath of the Middle Ages; and great scientific discoveries and admirable works on every imaginable subject showed that the genius of modern society was not a whit inferior to that of antiquity. Printing, was invented, and with that brilliant discovery, the Middle Ages, which had accomplished their work of social renovation, made way for the Renaissance, which scattered abroad in profusion the prolific and brilliant creations of Art, Science, and Literature."